Ohh Margaritaville.. the name itself makes me think of nothing but paradise. I think of the beach, palm trees, blue waters, warm weather, LandShark, and of course.. Margaritas. On our most recent trip down the US, we decided to change things up a bit and go during winter! This one in particular was located in the coldest place in Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains! We had plans to go skiing that weekend at Ober Gatlinburg, but due to the weather the slopes were closed. We almost think we got lucky because instead we had A BLAST just staying at the hotel and exploring the nearby town. The day started with margaritas, and ended with live music.. even though it’s not set on the beach it definitely still feels like paradise.
Shortly after we left, the results for the year were in and they had been rated #1 in the 2019 Readers’ Choice “Best New Hotel” by USA Today. I was so happy to hear the news and thought it was so cool to have stayed in a place that won a ranking like that. Here’s our take on the amazing Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg.
This was my first time in Tennessee, or anywhere down South really. I knew there was a mountain nearby so I assumed there’d be a little bit of a town, but I had no idea just how ICONIC Gatlinburg was. About 15 minutes before we got to the hotel, you see signs for the enourmous Dollywood and billboards with Dolly Parton appearing everywhere. This is then followed by sign after sign for Moonshine tastings and finally, a countless number of pancake houses. When we arrived into Gatlinburg, we were met with the cutest little town I’ve ever seen. There were cabin houses everywhere, the town was decorated with christmas lights. Everything seemed a little too familiar though, then it hit me.. SMOKY THE BEAR! Yes, everything from one of my favorite childhood characters existed in real life, and I was here!
The actual downtown area is about a mile and a half long and consists of souvenir shops, wine tastings, restaurants, hotels, bars (not many regular liquor stores though), shopping areas, and pure entertainment. It felt like an outdoor casino mixed with an amusement park. There was something to do at every corner whether it was zip lining, bowling, 4D movies, or a tram/trolley that just takes you up and down. Margaritaville Gatlinburg is located right in the middle of it all. You can park yourself for free or use valet, and leave your car for the weekend because almost everything you’ll want to do is within walking distance! (with the exception of going to the mountain, that’s about a 15 minute drive away!)
Upon arrival, I almost forgot it was winter. There’s a giant flip flop at the front, and when you walk in everything is painted and decorated tropically, along with the workers wearing floral short-sleeve button up t-shirts. The lobby is a large open area, sharing space with the bar and restaurant. Go a little further and there’s a charming fireplace, and to the back there’s a pool with slides (or a mini-waterpark as I like to call it!). Indoor there is also a heated pool, and then a separate outdoor heated jacuzzi. They also have spa packages available for total relaxation, and right next door is their signature LandShark bar (if you haven’t had their beer I would totally recommend it).
The 4 of us slept in a Double Queen One Bedroom Suite oh so comfortably. Walking in we had a living area with a pull-out couch, fridge, and sink area with counter space large enough for making drinks (more on that later). There was a bathroom with 2 sinks, a separate tub, and a shower with 3 SHOWER HEADS. I seem overly excited about this, but I really did appreciate it. You could have 1, 2 or all 3 on. It was amazing. Anyways.. getting to the back we had our 2 beds, and then a balcony overlooking the front of the property and the amazing Smoky Mountains we had traveled so far to see. Here’s a quick walk-through video.
The Food and Amenities
For food and drink, they had 4 main options on property (and of course all of the amazing restaurants nearby). The on-site consisted of:
- Joe Marchant’s Coffee and Provisions – perfect for breakfast, snacks, coffee, or small eats!
- License to Chill Bar – the main bar located downstairs by the lobby. The drink menu is wonderful, and the food is also amazing. They have live music during the weekends.
- LandShark Bar & Grill – Located right across the parking lot. Great place to enjoy classic American Beach food and if you haven’t yet, try your first LandShark (their signature lager!)
- In-Room Dining – we decided to treat ourselves and go with this option. Service was quick and the food was great.
We had ordered a tequila package before we got there, and when we arrived it was already ready in the room. It came with tequila, lime, sour mix, a knife, cutting board, and most importantly, the famouss Margaritaville Margarita Maker. Now I had never made a margarita (or anything frozen) before in my life, so I had a lot of fun with this. Here’s a video of our first attempt of making a few!
After the margaritas, the pace for the rest of the evening was set. We ordered room service and enjoyed some of the best quesadillas of my life. The girls had a mini spa day in the tub as we watched Bird Box on Netflix while the boys went into town and tried some moonshine. Eventually we regathered downstairs, where they had live music on and had an amazing time. The singer was phenomenal (his name was Josh Cottrell, check out his page here), and the Australians somehow got him to do a “shoey” with them after the show (where they pour beer in their shoe and drink it… yeah idk Australians are a bit extreme haha). But it was amazing. We ended the night taking a dip in the outdoor sauna, then headed back to the room where we fell asleep watching “A Star is Born” on the TV in the room.
Things to Do
We were originally attracted to the area to try skiing (some of the cheapest skiing in the US from what I’ve seen), however, due to that being closed to weather, we had to look at other options.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place that had SO MANY things to do in the area. I mentioned a few things above, but some of the most interesting things I found and what’s on the list for the next time we visit are:
- Ober Gatlinburg (either during the summer or when there’s snow, just not in-between)
- Ripley’s Aquarium
- 7D Dark Ride Adventure (I really don’t understand this one but it sounds interesting!)
- Escape Rooms
- Gatlinburg Skylift – for the best views of the mountains.
- Moonshine Tour Tasting (there’s a bunch of places everywhere you go! We’ve heard great things about Sugarland’s Distilling Company and Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine)
- Wine Tasting (because sometimes you need a break from moon shine. Tennessee Homemade Wines is close by!)
All of these places are located right by Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg. If you want to venture out a little further, they have a bunch of pamphlets at the hotel with things to do. Uber DOES work in Gatlinburg (although there were only a few cars working when we were there, but it got the job done!)
We only stayed for 2 quick nights, but wish we had stayed for longer. The guest service was amazing. By the second day everyone knew my name and was so polite. The location was amazing, and the services offered by the hotel could keep you as busy, or as relaxed as you want. The town of Gatlinburg itself is something to check out. I’d definitely recommend staying here. The weekend we went we were supposed to go skiing but since that was cancelled, we had fun at the resort. I don’t think we would have been able to still enjoy our time if we were staying elsewhere. I definitely need to go back and see what it’s like both during the summer and during the winter when it snows! You can check them out yourself at their website www.margaritavilleresortgatlinburg.com/
To check out the equipment we used to capture these awesome moments look at our Travel Gear!
**Disclaimer: we were hosted by Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg as guests, however all thoughts, photos and opinions are our own.